Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 119! Namibia - Fillet of Alligator Skewers with Peanut Satay and Couscous - Up Next, Nauru

Well...when a girl comes across a Namibian recipe that calls for alligator and ostrich, it's simply impossible to walk away.  And, as anyone who knows me can testify to, the challenge of locating hard to find ingredients simply ups the excitement factor exponentially.

So, after doing a little foodie sleuthing, I found ostrich, which although available, was waaaaayyyyy out of my price range...like $39.99 per pound too rich for my blood. Alligator, on the other hand, was right in the ballpark. To get the stuff, I headed over to Savanor's in Cambridge after work, where they totally hooked me up. Although I had to pass up the ostrich (hey, I needed gas!), I left with 2 pounds of alligator fillet that had just come in earlier that morning. Seriously, I had a bag of freakin' alligator in hand cruising down the street...and I'll bet I was the only ex-Cambridge townie who did - now that's boss.

Located in southern Africa, south of the equator, Namibia sits on the Atlantic Ocean and borders Angola, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa. The country gained independence from South Africa in 1990 following the Namibian War of Independence. Prior to South Africa's colonization, Namibia had been colonized by the Germans. The country's name comes from the Namib Desert, thought to be the oldest in the world.
Bushmeat, along with fish is an important part of the Namibian diet.

Food in Namibia is varied according to region, but overall, the cuisine is based on fresh seafood, chicken and bushmeats, crocodile and ostrich. Rice, beans, millet, corn, tomatoes and couscous along with a thick porridge are all commonly eaten. Fresh oranges, bananas, pineapples, kiwi, avocados and peanuts round out the diverse culinary choices. For the most part, food is cooked outside on a fire pit or using a three legged pot, so that's what I did, stoking up the fire pit I dug last year for the first time this spring.

Bushmeat Skewers with Peanut Satay (Adapted from Celtnet)

2 lbs alligator fillet
(or 1 pound of ostrich and 1pound of alligator)
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 red chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup cashew nuts, roasted and crushed
juice of 1 lime
7/8 cup coconut milk
4 fresh chilis chopped
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
light brown sugar to taste
salt and freshly ground pepper

You will need 15 bamboo skewers soaked in water for 15 minutes, or metal skewers.
Meanwhile, cut the meat into strips and season liberally with salt and freshly-ground pepper. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, finely-chopped chili and soy sauce. our this over the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer.

While the meat is marinating, prepare the satay sauce by incorporating the remaining ingredients together in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, add sugar to taste and cook gently for 5 minutes. Prepare the meat by threading two or three strips onto the skewers. Brush with any remaining marinade and place on grill (or under broiler).

Grill for a few minutes on each side until the meat is just done. Do not over cook as the meat does not have a lot of fat.

Serve on a bed of couscous accompanied by hot satay sauce.

Final Assessment: Awesomeness! Alligator tastes kind of like chicken (really), but with a much gamier, somewhat swampy flavor. The marinate tenderized it, and the grilling brought out the flavor and gave it such a wonderful crispy texture. I served with couscous and spinach, which we all loved. I'd love to experiment more with this wonderful meat.


Karen said...

oh my god, that is FANTASTIC !!

sadie said...

thank you, Karen!

Anonymous said...

I don't think that you get aligators in Namibia - only crocodiles. - they are not the same thing

sadie said...

Hi Anonymous - You're absolutely right, but I can't get crocodile here in the States (at least not that I was able to find) - Alligator here is farm-raised. I'm sure they taste different, but this was the closest I could get - thanks for reading and commenting - I appreciate the feedback!

witchywoman said...

I have to say that this is super cool. We had a store, here in Longview, WA, years ago that sold alligator. I bought two pieces, took them home, put them in a beer batter (because I had noooooo idea on how to cook them, pre-internet days) and when I went to drop the pieces in the deep fryer, the oil splashed back and got me on the arm. I still have the scar there from where my alligator bit me back...LOL! I'd try it again like you did yours, but I don't recommend it in a beer batter, deep fried! Great blog, Sarah!

sadie said...

Yikes! Deep fried? My husband would love you :) I love your idea!